"Risk exposures for the European insurance sector increased as the outbreak of Covid-19 strongly affected the lives of all European citizens with disruptions in all financial sectors and economic activities. Market developments point to a "double-hit" scenario negatively affecting insurers on both asset and liability side as tested in previous stress test exercises."
Read the full report here
Macro and market risks indicators deteriorated in March 2020, moving from high to very high level. Overall, GDP forecasts have been revised significantly downwards across countries for 2020. For the first quarter of 2020, EU estimates point to the sharpest decrease of GDP and employment in the last two decades. Inflation forecasts are pointing to downward revisions for the next four quarters. Monetary policy support has been activated by all major central banks. Financial markets have been characterized by sell-off across asset classes, increased volatilities for bond and equity markets, increasing risk premia and flight to quality investment behavior.
Credit risk has increased across all asset classes, in particular CDS of government bonds, financial and non-financial corporate bonds have increased sharply.
Liquidity and funding risks raised to high level, as some indicators are expected to worsen via the latest market developments and the strong hit on economic activities, which is reducing incomes and could result in decreasing premiums and lowering new business. Moreover, the potential increase in claims and illiquid level of certain assets could put additional strains on the disposable liquidity of insurers in the medium to long-term horizon.
Profitability and solvency risks increased to high level. A deterioration of indicators is estimated as a consequence of the recent negative market developments in the context of Covid-19 outbreak. Furthermore, a decrease in excess of assets over liabilities is expected, driven by drops in asset values and increase in liabilities. On the other hand, an improvement of the SCR ratios for groups and life undertakings across the whole distribution was observed in Q4-2019.
Interlinkages and imbalances risks remain stable with an observed fall in the upper quartile of the derivative holdings distribution, potentially due to a market value reduction.
Insurance risks raised to high level. The negative market developments may have negative effects via income reduction (due to the impact of drop in economic activity on new as well as existing business) and potential increase in claims for specific business lines.
Market perceptions of the insurance sector has deteriorated as well. The EU insurance sector underperformed the market, both life and non-life businesses lines, and the median price-to-earnings ratio of insurance groups in the sample decreased since the last assessment. Insurers' CDS spreads increased, while insurers' external ratings and rating outlooks do not show sign of deterioration as of end March 2020.